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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

MONA ELTAHAWY - The sister we missed

Meantime, a host of U.S. Muslim organizations – mostly led by men, of course – swore up and down that Islam was innocent of Ms. Hassan's murder and that it was just another case of domestic violence. Domestic violence being the more mundane crime, they determined, with a keen eye on the demonization of Muslims.

I would take them more seriously had they fought violence against women with the same vehemence they fight to preserve the image of the “community.” At Musawah, I heard horror stories from Muslim women activists from the U.S., Britain, Australia and New Zealand whose work to help abused women was hampered by their community's denial, which often fed on anti-Muslim bigotry in their respective countries.

That same “community” has been frighteningly silent about the way some religious leaders use a controversial verse in the Koran to justify beating women. It's hard to fight a man who beats you. How do you take on God, too?

Just last month in Australia, a video surfaced of an imam saying there was no such thing as marital rape and advising men how to beat wives without bruising them.

Type Muslim+woman+beating into an online search engine and you get a monster's parade of what I call “YouTube imams” explaining how to beat a woman according to “Islamic teaching.”

“Islam can be a source of empowerment, not a source of oppression and discrimination,” Musawah project director Zainah Anwar said at the opening ceremony. “For there to be justice in the 21st century, there must be equality. … These values must be at the core of what it means to be Muslim today.”
The 9/11 terrorist attacks sensitized Muslims to what our imams said about violence in the name of Islam. Now, in honour of Aasiya Hassan, if a religious leader justifies violence against women, we must walk out, complain and push for his removal.


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